14. Jan 2021

Lessons Learned

The Top 5 insights from 2020 – from a different perspective

2020 was a difficult and challenging year and we are all longing for ‚new beginnings’ in 2021 – this time more than ever. At the same time, however, we know that the adverse effects of 2020 will only become obvious in the upcoming years. Challenges that do not stop at national borders and impact and restrict all areas of society and private life are now part of our „new normal“. The year in review is the appropriate moment not only to see 2020 as a „catastrophic year“, but also to become aware of the opportunities that arise from it.

The past year opened our eyes in many ways: we have realized that nothing can be taken for granted anymore; things can change quickly and without warning and we have to find creative solutions in order to deal with these changes. On the one hand, it was a positive surprise to see how adaptive we are and what we can get used to in a short time; how important it is to be grateful for certain things and how essential clear or new rules can be to move forward together. On the other hand, we have realized that it is just a small balancing act between professional and private life. Many things we have learned in our professional lives also apply to our private lives and vice versa.

1. Health, our most valuable asset

Whether employees, partners or customers: the health and protection of all people involved is a priority for organizations – and this is a particularly important task under these special circumstances. Constant evaluation of the workplace situation or the place of encounter is essential for meeting the legal framework, taking appropriate steps and ensuring the health of all.

Many organizations had to change their services from „on-site“ to „virtual“, whether internally, or externally at customer side, in order to maintain their operations. Social and psychological effects also played a major role: While this new situation lead to „deceleration” for some people, constant stress, permanent availability and acceleration were part of the new daily routine for others. Read about the Connection between employee health and occupational safety here.

2. Agility and Purpose in Interaction

To keep up with the current pace, daily dynamics and complexity, companies need to be agile away from rigid hierarchies, and be adaptable while constantly taking account of the current conditions. In short, if you want to be agile and manage the crisis in the best possible way, you have to be flexible. The current pandemic has shown us that this way of thinking must be lived from managers to employees.

Whether it has been planned or not – this year it is particularly important to be open to new things and, at the same time, to internalize the “trial and error” principle.

So every day we have to learn to be as flexible and adaptable as necessary for dealing with the daily challenges inside and outside the companyValues such as personal responsibility and self-organization are coming into focus. Simultaneously, we are asking ourselves „Why?” and the question of purpose and sense of our own activities occurs. For this reason, the purpose of a company must always be borne in mind, especially in times of crisis.

3. Structure is essential, especially during a crisis

Managers and employees who know what to do in crisis situations respond better and achieve the intended output more quickly. Management systems with defined processes, responsibilities and frameworks provide support in achieving the objectives. At the same time, they help managers, among others, to also see each crisis as an opportunity.

In times of great uncertainty, system failures not only affect the company’s reputation, cost money and time, but – in a worst-case scenario – also jeopardize its very existence. It is now more important than ever to use standards such as ISO 22301 (Business Continuity Management System) as beneficial and useful tools to avoid business disruption or disruption of the capability to deliver, and thus to be able to quickly resume disrupted activities after an event of crisis. Additionally, ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety) provides a holistic preventive approach – the implementation of both standards (ISO 22301 and ISO 45001) can support organizations in systematically ensuring business continuity and the health and safety of employees.

4. Use ‚digitalization boosters‘

We are currently experiencing a rapid increase in digitalization and can derive advantage from it. Not only a new way of learning, working and communicating is shaping our daily lives, but new business ideas are developing faster and find fertile ground. Generational differences become indistinct on the Internet – even those persons who were not „technophiles” are now experts in using Zoom or other video conferencing Apps. Many trends have come to stay, including the professionalization of virtual exchange, e-learning, virtual meetings, events, training courses, exams and remote audits, which are now part of working life.

5. Focus on sustainability

In 2020, many companies have taken greater responsibility in social, societal and ecological matters – not least because consumers are placing greater value on domestic products and sustainability during crisis, but also, for example, because many business trips have been canceled and switched to remote appointments.

Topics such as compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and circular economy of companies are emphasized. The notification obligation of the new SCIP Database requires companies to submit clear information on circular economy, sustainability and transparency of their supply chains. Companies with an implemented environmental management system according to ISO 14001 promote environmental protection, improve their environmental performance and act in a more sustainable way.


Contact persons


Mr. Eckehard Bauer, MSc

Executive Vice President Business Development Safety Management, Business Continuity, Risk, Security, Compliance and Transport


Mr. Axel Dick, MSc

Executive Vice President Business Development Environment and Energy, CSR


Ms. Dr. Anni Koubek

Executive Vice President Innovation, Business Development Certification Quality

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